Cubs @ Dodgers June 15, 2019: Darvish vs. Buehler

After a solid 5-3 win last night, the Dodgers now sit at 47-23. That’s a 10.5 game lead over the Rockies in the west, and a six game lead in the entire National League over the Braves (41-29). Walker Buehler will take the hill tonight against the infamous former Dodger Yu Darvish.

Cubs
Dodgers
6:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
LF
Schwarber
LF
Pederson
3B
Bryant
CF
Verdugo
1B
Rizzo
3B
Turner
SS
Baez
RF
Bellinger
CF
Heyward
2B
Muncy
C
Caratini
1B
Beaty
RF
Gonzalez SS Hernandez
P
Darvish (R)
C
Barnes
2B
Russell
P
Buehler (R)

The lineup tonight is similar to last night against Kyle Hendricks, due to another matchup against a right-handed pitcher in Darvish. The top five in the lineup are identical, with the only differences being Enrique Hernandez starting at short over Chris Taylor, and Austin Barnes catching over Russell Martin.

Let’s get this out of the way — Darvish pitched poorly in Game 3 and most notably Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. He was tipping pitches and he should’ve been pulled earlier in Game 7. I understand that some people resent him for that, but it is what it is. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen also contributed to the 2017 World Series result. Also, the Dodgers potentially don’t make the World Series in the first place without Darvish.

Prior to the 2018 season, Darvish signed a six-year $126 million deal with the Cubs. After an injury riddled 2018, Darvish has struggled to return to his previous levels of performance. He has a 4.98 ERA and a 5.29 FIP through 72.1 relatively wild innings. How this happens to a former ace is explained simplest by his command or lack thereof. Of 119 starting pitchers with 50+ innings pitched, Darvish has the highest walk-rate in baseball at 13.7%. To go along with that, he’s thrown seven wild pitches which trails only Lance Lynn with nine. Additionally, his 22.4% home run per fly-ball rate is the sixth highest in the league. Simply put, he’s walking a ton of batters and giving up homers. That’s a great matchup for the Dodgers and a bad matchup for Darvish. At the same time, a once elite pitcher is always dangerous.

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Buehler has been excellent for nearly the entirety of the season. He started slightly shaky, but has been fantastic as of late. Out of those 119 aforementioned starters, Buehler’s walk-rate of 4.4% is the sixth lowest in the league, trailing Kershaw (4.2%) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (1.6%). He currently has a 3.35 ERA and a 3.02 FIP, and most notably his 0.98 WHIP is the tenth lowest mark in the league. Over his last eight starts, he’s thrown 51.1 innings, striking out 60 while walking just five. He owns a 2.45 ERA and a 2.63 FIP over that stretch, with an elite 30.2% strikeout rate, and an even more impressive 2.5% walk-rate. He’s coming off a great start against the Giants, where he allowed only five hits over seven innings, while striking out nine.

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Hendricks had a poor start against the Dodgers last night, but still left the game after only 4.1 innings and 84 pitches. Hopefully everything is just fine with him.

With the temporary loss of Corey Seager, A.J. Pollock returning could alleviate some of the pressure off Alex Verdugo who has been slowing down as of late.

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Above all else, Anthony Davis is a Laker.

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First pitch is at 6:10 P.T. on KTLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Allan Yamashige
Just a guy living in Thousand Oaks, CA who happens to love the Dodgers and statistics. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about adults doing baseball is alright.